Getting to know your poop

Our poop is about 75 percent water. The rest is a combination of fiber, live and dead bacteria, miscellaneous cells and mucus. The characteristics of your stool will tell you a good deal about how happy and healthy your digestive tract is – the color, odor, shape, size, and even the sound it makes when it hits the water and whether it’s a “sinker” or a “floater” are all relevant information.

The average body takes between 18 and 72 hours to convert food into poop and pass it on out. When this time is significantly shortened, the result is diarrhea because your intestine doesn’t have time to absorb all of the water (not to mention nutrients don’t have the proper time to be absorbed). Conversely, when transit time is lengthened, you may end up constipated because too much water has been absorbed, resulting in hard, dry stools (and toxins from the stool will reabsorb into your body).

Researchers at the Bristol Royal Infirmary—a hospital in Bristol, England—developed a visual guide for stools called the Bristol Stool Chart, helping skittish patients and doctors to distinguish normal stools from abnormal without getting embarrassed over personal details.

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Let’s have a look at each type and what it indicates

Type 1: Separate hard lumps

Constipated poop. Typical for post-antibiotic treatments and for people attempting fiber-free (low-carb) diets. It would be a good idea here to increase fiber rich foods as well as increasing water intake.

Type 2: Sausage-like but lumpy

Represents a combination of Type 1 stools impacted into a single mass and lumped together by fiber components and some bacteria. This type is the most destructive by far because its size is near or exceeds the maximum opening of the anal canal‘s aperture. It‘s bound to cause extreme straining during elimination, and most likely to cause anal canal laceration, hemorrhoidal prolapse, or diverticulosis. To attain this form, the stools must be in the colon for at least several weeks instead of the normal 72 hours. Anorectal pain, hemorrhoidal disease, anal fissures, withholding or delaying of defecation, and a history of chronic constipation are the most likely causes.

Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks in the surface

This form has all of the characteristics of Type 2 stools, but the transit time is faster, between one and two weeks. Typical for latent constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome is likely. The fact that it hasn’t become as enlarged as Type 2 suggests that the defecations are regular. Straining is still required.

Type 4: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft

This form is normal for someone defecating once daily. The larger diameter suggests a longer transit time or a large amount of dietary fiber in the diet.

Type 5: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges

This is typical for a person who has stools twice or three times daily, typically after major meals.

Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool

These kind of stools may suggest a slightly hyperactive colon (fast motility), excess dietary potassium, or sudden dehydration or spike in blood pressure related to stress (both cause the rapid release of water and potassium from blood plasma into the intestinal cavity). It can also indicate a hypersensitive personality prone to stress, too many spices, drinking water with a high mineral content, or the use of osmotic (mineral salts) laxatives, as well as inflammation.

Type 7: Watery, no solid pieces

This, of course, is diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasites, or as a response to constipation (called paradoxical diarrhea). Paradoxical diarrhea is typical for people affected by fecal impaction—a condition that follows or accompanies type 1 stools. During paradoxical diarrhea the liquid contents of the small intestine (up to 1.5–2 liters/quarts daily) have no place to go but down, because the large intestine is stuffed with impacted stools throughout its entire length. Some water gets absorbed, the rest accumulates in the rectum. The reason this type of diarrhea is called paradoxical is not because its nature isn‘t known or understood, but because being severely constipated and experiencing diarrhea all at once, is, indeed, a paradoxical situation. Unfortunately, it‘s all too common.

If you have questions and concerns about your poop, and/or want to take control of your health, I invite you to book an appointment with me here, and I can help you put your goals into action by creating step by step solutions to your own unique situation.

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Happy pooping!!

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